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Old 05-30-2016, 02:22 AM   #1
harmonica44
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How can I make a courtroom thriller interesting in this way?

I have an idea for a courtroom thriller and wrote out a few drafts. However, some readers have pointed out a huge plot hole, in that the lawyers, are surprised by witnesses testimony and did not see the ambushes coming... where as logically, the lawyers would have already known what the witnesses were going to say before trial. They would have found out at the deposition.

I suppose that's true after thinking about it, the lawyers would have already known what the witnesses were going to say and what evidence would have been presented in the deposition. There would be no surprises at at the trial, cause all of that would have been covered at the deposition.

So I am thinking I should change the story to a deposition instead of a trial. In a deposition both lawyers meet in a small office room and just bring in the witnesses, one at time, and ask them questions, instead of a courtroom.

However, I feel this would lack suspense. The defendant isn't even there to face his accusers. Even though his lawyer would logically do the talking, him not even being there I think would take away a lot of the intrigue of how the reader perceives the situation, if he is not there to emotionally react to it all, even if it's mostly internal.

There are also people in the back of the courtroom who have personal involvement in the case, such as loved ones, of the victims, who would have reactions while watching the case, who would also not be there in the room as all of this investigating and cross examining of the case goes on.

So I was wondering, is there any ways I can make the deposition equally suspenseful, even though the defendant and the victim's loved ones, will not be able to there to react to everything, realistically?

I also feel that not having a judge there to decide on what is relevant, admissible and fair, and what not, also can remove some of the intrigue.

The deposition allows for the prosecutor and defense attorney to be surprised and not know what witnesses will say, and not know what evidence will bring till they go over it. The surprises are more important for the story to go, where I want it go, but it would be nice to have all that little drama as well, if that's still possible.

What do you think? Thanks for the advice and input. I really appreciate it.
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Old 05-30-2016, 03:13 AM   #2
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Is this the same story you've been trying to figure out for the last year or so?
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Old 05-30-2016, 11:13 AM   #3
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This is the identical question you wrung-out to exhaustion on another forum. You got LOTS of great advice there.
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Old 05-30-2016, 11:24 AM   #4
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"How can I" and "in this way" in a question are blocking the view to any solution, because apparently 'this way' doesn't work, while you keep insisting on it.

I understand a courtroom universe with clear rules appeals to you, but it doesn't mean everyone in that universe will or must play strictly by the rules.
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Old 06-08-2016, 10:01 AM   #5
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I did think about doing courtroom dramas, and, if I was to do an episode on a trial, I would first watch several movies involving trials, like "A Few Good Men", "Inherit the Wind", and "To Kill a Mockingbird".
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Old 06-18-2016, 12:40 AM   #6
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Okay thanks. And it's a different script, to answer one of the above questions.

Well when it comes to thrillers and how I am writing this one, one thing reader's tell me, is I am not being realistic enough. But how important is realize in a screenplay, since many movies bend realism for drama?

For example, in the movie The French Connection (1971), Popeye Doyle, after being shot at, commandeers a civilian's car, and and drives after the shooter.

This is not realistic police procedure, since in real life, a cop is not illegally allowed to "commandeer" a car, and they have to make a phone call, and send other cops after the shooter instead, and wait to see what happens. The reason why they broke this law for the story, is that it's more exciting to see the hero in a high speed chase after the villain himself, as oppose to relying on others.

In the movie The Negotiator (1998), a cop is framed for murder, and has his own police force after him. In order to prove his innocence, he finds out who the real killer is by threatening to kill him if he doesn't talk, then when he talk. Then when the hero gets the info he needs, he goes to the villain's house, breaks in, and attempts to remove the evidence to prove who the real killer is. This leads to a police stand off, and the hero manages to trick other villain cops into incriminating himself and he records it.

After the dirty cops are recorded incriminating themselves, the honest police then handcuff them and arrest them. However, since the MC got the evidence through threats of death, and breaking and entering, the evidence cannot be used in court cause he broke the fourth and fifth amendment, and it would be 'fruit of the poisonous tree'.

The movie ends with the police cuffing the real killers. But even though the real killers, murdered a cop, would the police really cuff them, knowing full well that the evidence, will not be admissible in court? Why bother? The movie ends, giving the audience the impression that the hero got the real killers, when realistically the cop killers would be back on the streets, and the police full well know it.

In the movie The Departed (2006), the police follow Costello and his men, to a drug selling transaction. Once the police see them do the drug deal, they send in a SWAT team to swarm in and arrest everyone. This causes the villains to pull out their guns and open fire on the police, causing a big gunfight.

This is also unrealistic, cause in real life, the police, do not arrest everyone after the drug deal. Instead they would wait till all the culprits went home, and they would send officers to arrest all the culprits, individually, while each one is alone.

The reason why the police wait for this, is so they do not have to engage the culprits all in a firefight, while they all together, as a team of armed men. It's easier to fight one armed man at a time, rather than them all together as a whole. But the writers break this rule as a means to have a big exciting shoot out.

In the movie Cell 211 (2009), prisoners have broken out of their cells and taken all the guards hostage. They will kill the guards as well as other prisoners if their demands are not met.

After a long stand off, the police offer to pardon the leader of the hostage takers, if the leader kills his fellow men, and saves the hostages.

This is also not realistic as the police are not allowed to offer pardons, to a hostage, taker, in exchange for the hostage taker to kill his own men. That is not allowed cause it puts the hostages in possibly more danger, even if the pardon comes from the leader of the nation himself, it's still against real protocol.

The reason why the writers wrote it this way is cause it makes for one hell of a suspense scenario to play with.

So when it comes to readers saying my story lacks realism, what are the rules when it comes to bending it, for the sake of drama, like other moves do?
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Old 06-18-2016, 06:44 AM   #7
WalterB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmonica44 View Post
.............

So when it comes to readers saying my story lacks realism, what are the rules when it comes to bending it, for the sake of drama, like other moves do?
Who are the readers?
Do they say what they mean?
Maybe they mean to say it is unbelievable when they say unrealistic?
Because a movie is an illusion, you can play with 'reality' as long as it stays believable.
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:18 AM   #8
mlesemann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterB View Post
Who are the readers?
Do they say what they mean?
Maybe they mean to say it is unbelievable when they say unrealistic?
Because a movie is an illusion, you can play with 'reality' as long as it stays believable.
Yes!! I think you hit the nail squarely on the head
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Old 06-22-2016, 03:04 AM   #9
harmonica44
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Okay thanks that makes sense.

When it comes to creating the illusion vs. reality, how does one anticipate where the line is drawn? For example, a couple of readers were bothered by a hostage situation in my story, where the police bring in the hostage taker's girlfriend to try to talk him down.

They said that the police doing this is unrealistic, or that they didn't believe it. But in Cell 211, the police offer to pardon the leader of the hostage takers if he kills his own men.

So how is one scenario, more believable than mine, since in both, the police are putting innocent people in danger, either way for example?
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Old 06-22-2016, 04:13 AM   #10
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There is another difference here:
did your readers read the Cell 211 script or did they watch it?
Reading scripts is a different experience than watching a movie.
Besides that: writing style can also have different effects on people (although scripts don't offer as much room for that as normal proze).

There is a lot of noise in discussing why a reader does think something about something we never read.
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Old 06-22-2016, 12:12 PM   #11
harmonica44
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The readers I don't think watched Cell 211, not that I mentioned. I just used it as an example since in Spain, the movie won the Spanish Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay, and was a hit, so with that kind of reception, I thought the majority accepted the lack of total realism.
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Old 06-22-2016, 02:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmonica44 View Post
The readers I don't think watched Cell 211, not that I mentioned. I just used it as an example since in Spain, the movie won the Spanish Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay, and was a hit, so with that kind of reception, I thought the majority accepted the lack of total realism.
That is only part of the point I tried to make.
The more general (and more conceptual) point is that reading a script is a different experience than watching a movie.

Are your readers used to reading scripts?
Did they ever read scripts from movies they like?
Or are they just reading a bare bones script and judge it like a novel?
Or do they have no imagination and do they read it like reading a groceries list?

It is highly probable that your script doesn't make sense.
But:
Nobody here read the script AND we don't know the merit of your readers.
You only say what they said and then argue that another movie did win awards.

Did you see Alien?

'Not enough data to compute'
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Old 06-22-2016, 04:07 PM   #13
harmonica44
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They are readers who are use to reading novels, and have done beta-reading for other novelists. Is their a difference between level of acceptance of scenarios in movies compared to novel fiction?
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:48 PM   #14
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Old 11-25-2016, 05:16 AM   #15
harmonica44
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Well after talking about it with some people, one of them had something interesting to say. He said that moviegoers are much more willing to suspend disbelief, and lack of realism, on the screen, rather than on paper.

So if this is true, how can I translate a script, so that it's just as technically unrealistic as a movie, but the reader will it accept it the same way, if that's the case?
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